Wednesday, February 26, 2014

MAGNOLIA #WhistleStopTour Campaign and Contest!

There's been a lot of talk lately about Amtrak starting a writer's residency program--you know, allowing writers to ride the rails for free in order to have dedicated writing time. Like every other writer out there, I thought "Wow, I want to do this!"  After all, I love to travel by train.  I made the 26-hour trip last summer from Miami to New York City with both my kids in tow.  An adventure, definitely!  The entire time, I kept thinking how lovely it would be to write as I rode the rails.  I had (optimistically!) brought my laptop on board, but it just didn't happen, not in a super-crowded coach car with two pre-teens to entertain along the way.

But now, with all the talk...I'm thinking, "Yes, please!" And since I'm a multi-tasker, it occurred to me, why not kill two birds with one stone?!  Why just a writing trip, when it could be a book tour, as well?!  I have a YA novel coming out in August (MAGNOLIA, Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, Aug. 2014) that's set in a fictional small town in Mississippi.  Though I'm a proud graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, I rarely get back to the Magnolia state, since I live in New York City now (and have since graduation).  Heck, I even mention train travel specifically in MAGNOLIA, suggesting that my characters take the train from Mississippi to New York City--it's right there in the Advance Reader Copy (ARC), pages 302-303!

So I thought...what better way to travel the state to promote MAGNOLIA (after all, I don't think there are that many YA novels set in Mississippi!) than by Amtrak?  Forget the stress of air travel--security screenings, trapped in a tiny seat knees-to-seatback and elbow-to-elbow with your fellow passengers--or traveling by car.  Neither are conducive to relaxing *or* to finding precious time to write between promo stops.  But traveling by rail?  I'm picturing sitting in a cozy roommette--PR assistant in tow--enjoying the lovely scenery as my fingers fly over the keyboard.  How inspiring!

And then, between dedicated writing sessions, visiting some of the wonderful Mississippi independent booksellers (like TurnRow Books in Greenwood, and Lemuria Books in Jackson) to talk about writing, about MAGNOLIA and my inspirations, before signing copies for readers.  And hey, conveniently enough, both Greenwood and Jackson are right on that Amtrak route that runs the length of Mississippi, from New Orleans to Memphis!  How perfect!  It's almost like...fate.

So here's where you come in:  I'm asking for help promoting my idea of a #WhistleStopTour to promote MAGNOLIA to the fine folks at Amtrak.  In exchange for your help, I'm going to run a contest, of course, with some wonderful Mississippi-themed prizes (because it's a state worth getting to know!).

Let's take to social media, and get heard!

Here's what I want:  To ride the train (along with the wonderful PR genius and fellow USM alum Amber from from New Orleans, LA to Memphis, TN (with a possible side trip to Hattiesburg, MS).  Promo stops and book signings at independent bookstores and schools/libraries along the route, including but not limited to Greenwood, Jackson, and hopefully Hattiesburg and Oxford, too.  I'll have signs/banners/T-shirts made to promote the tour which will include the #WhistleStopTour graphic and the Amtrak logo. I will pitch a story to a Mississippi-based publication, detailing my journey throughout the state via rail.  I will promote like crazy across social media platforms--Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Instagram.  And while I ride the rails, I will write, write, WRITE!

All I'm asking from Amtrak is a donation of the rail travel--I'll take care of the rest through my own publicity team.

Now...for the prizes!  One winner will receive this gorgeous Magnolia necklace:

One winner will receive this Mississippi-shaped gift basket from The Mississippi Gift Company:

And one winner will receive a one-year (six issue) subscription to Mississippi Magazine:

If any of the winners would rather trade in their prize for a $20 gift card from Amazon,, Books-a-Million, or any independent store who offers mail-order gift cards, that's okay, too.  Unfortunately, because of the nature of shipping for some of the prizes, this contest has to be U.S. only (I'm sorry!).

You can enter using the form below.  The contest will run from now until March 21st, at which time Rafflecopter will randomly choose the winners.  Thanks, and good luck!

*Note:  as always, the information collected is solely for the purpose of this contest and verifying entries!  I never collect information or share it in any way, shape, or form!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Kristi, I'm in Memphis and would love to see you at our local bookstore call The Booksellers at Laurelwood. There's also a public HS less than a mile away from the bookstore that I would love to connect you with if you can do a drop in on a Creative Writing class or AP English class. Message me if I can help you IN ANY WAY

  2. Kristi - what a fun idea - I hope you get it!! If I can help in any way, let me know.

  3. Hi, Hope! This is *great* know--thanks so much!! If this tour actually happens, I will certainly be contacting you!

  4. And....the winners are.....(drum roll!)

    The Magnolia necklace: Andrea M.
    The Mississippi Gift Basket: Grace Z.
    The Miss. Magazine subscription: Nicole G.

    (or any of the winners can choose a $20 gift card, instead)
    I'll be sending out emails later today!